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       Emblaze, p.32

           Jessica Shirvington
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  Lincoln made dinner. Pasta. I asked for extra basil, which made him smile for some reason, and I soaked up every note of its aroma as it cooked.

  Mmm … Home.

  We sat in silence while we ate and until I made coffee. I dosed Lincoln"s with sugar, knowing if I asked he"d say one, so not bothering and instead just adding the two I knew he really preferred. He smiled as he watched.

  „He likes you," he said eventually. I knew he was talking about Jase. When I didn"t respond, he added, „I wanted to rip his throat out."

  I couldn"t hold back the smile. „I"m glad," I said, saying exactly what I knew I shouldn"t He started to laugh but covered it quickly with a cough. „You should get some sleep," he said, clearing away our plates.

  I didn"t want to sleep. I wanted to grab him, make him all mine.

  I followed him to his bedroom where he stayed standing to the doorway. I went straight to the bed, sitting on the edge.

  „Are we going to talk about your Mum?"

  I shook my head. „No. She"s gone."

  „You don"t think she"ll come back?"

  „I hope not." I flicked my hair so it curtained my face. "I never want to see her again."

  „We"ll see," he said under his breath, but he let it go and I was grateful. I wasn"t up to contemplating the hows and whys of her return. Or anything else for that matter. At least I could rely on the fact that she followed a consistent pattern when it came to me. Permanent absence. Whatever she was here for, I hoped she would stay away from me. And Dad.

  „There"s … an extra blanket on the end of the bed if you get cold."

  I nodded, my mouth gone dry.

  „Good night, Violet."

  He turned to leave, pulling the door behind him.

  „Stay!" I said, before I"d had a chance to think about it. But I didn"t want to take it back.

  He opened the door again, just a fraction, something new stirring in his eyes. He clenched his jaw and braced a hand on the doorframe, as if restraining himself, and I felt his power flare, guarding him.

  „I can"t," he said.

  „I know. But stay anyway. Just till I fall asleep."

  I heard his swallow from across the room. „That"s … not a good idea."

  „Well, I can"t be alone," I said, looking at the floor. „I can"t close my eyes. I can"t …"

  started, not realising I was crying until I saw the tears fall onto my leg. I kept my head down so he wouldn"t see. I knew I was being unfair, knew it would make things harder for us, but I didn"t care. Or maybe I didn"t believe things could get ay harder.

  It was silent for so long it became unbearable. I wasn"t going to force him, so I lay down and rolled over turning my back to him his chance to escape. I figured he"d gone but a few minutes later I heard the creak of floorboards and felt the blankets ruffle next to me. My whole body tensed and I didn"t move. Not even an inch. Too scare of frightening him away.

  We lay like that, both frozen and barely breathing until I heard him exhale, finally relaxing more of his weight onto the bed. I did the same, shuffling into a more comfortable position, but staying on my side, too nervous to face him.

  With a sound somewhere between a sigh and a growl, he moved in closer, wrapping an arm around my waist and burying his face into my neck so that I could feel his breath warm my skin.

  Holy hell, we"re spooning!

  Before he had a chance to think twice, I grabbed his arm and pulled it all the way around me. Completely wrapped in his embrace, a well of emotions ignited in me as his fingers kneaded gently, definitely, my arms. I exhaled again and let myself sink into his hold, my soul agreeing with me fore once. I felt him shift a little away from me.

  Oh.

  „I"m sorry, Vi. You"re stronger than I am."

  I almost fell out of the bed. How could he possibly think I was stronger than him?

  We lay silently for a time, as I contemplated what he"d said. I looked back over the past few weeks and my gradual but definite unravelling. Then I tried to see it from Lincoln"s point of view and realised there had always been something else going on a the time. Something that could have excused my behaviour in a way that didn"t make him think it was him. Even though it was. Always.

  The more I thought about it, the more I realised why he was so hard on himself. At the volcano he"d told me so much more than he"d ever intended. He"d done it to save me but also … there was no hiding from the fact that he"d admitted to wanting to be with me, even though he knew it could destroy me.

  I took a deep breath. I"d never told him that I was just as guilty, just as wanting of him.

  Sure, there was still fear and the deep desire not to hurt him, but he needed to know the truth.

  I wriggled a bit, moving his arm a little higher again. I could feel his heart thudding in my back.

  „Linc?" I began as my breathing went into overdrive. „You"re going to have to tell me not to roll over."

  If I thought he was frozen before, I was wrong. Everything about him stopped dead still. I waited, but there was nothing.

  This is it.

  I started to turn towards him, but his arm clamped back down on me, stopping me in my tracks.

  „Violet," he said, his voice low and thick with desire. „Do. Not. Roll. Over."

  I smiled. A wave of disappointment from my worse half and then relief from my better half washed through me. I wasn"t going to steal his soul.

  Not tonight.

  „Never think I"m strong, Linc. Not when it"s us. I"m always hanging by a thread." My truth.

  And my warning.

  He settled in behind me, softening his gold, and kissed my hair before whispering in my ear, „Well, that makes two threads. We can work with that."

  I didn"t want to sleep, didn"t want to miss a moment of this feeling of … calm.

  „Promise me we"ll find a way," I mumbled. Because there had to be hope, didn"t there?

  Hope for some day.

  My body relaxed, my mind went still, my soul content for now. I fell asleep within moments, but not before I heard him whisper, „I promise."

  -

  When I woke in the morning I was alone. But I knew he"d stayed with me most of the night, could still feel where his arm had held me tight.

  I went out to find him asleep on the couch. Spence would be up at some point and Lincoln wouldn"t want to risk him thinking something happened that hadn"t. I felt the twinge of guilt that had been guaranteed. I knew it had cost me. Us. That one request to stay. I could already feel the re-bloom of pain from being close to him.

  Despite my temptation to wake him and thank him for looking after me, I decided not to.

  He"d only jump into one of his spiels about us never being together and I knew it already, plus, he looked so peaceful, so beautiful, that I couldn"t.

  Instead, I wrote him a note, carefully, knowing Spence might see it too.

  Thanks for giving me a place to sleep last night, and for the extra blanket.

  Vi.

  Because he was a mighty fine extra blanket and I hope, just this once, my words would make him smile instead of frown.

  CHAPTER FORTY

  „ Every man has his own destiny: the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him."

  Henry Miller

  I couldn"t stay still so bought a takeaway coffee and blueberry muffin and began walking, relishing the peace of some time alone in the city streets.

  I strolled through the park where Lincoln and I had returned that exile and wandered through the trees I"d used for cover. A lot had happened since that night. Lincoln and I had worked so hard to stay away from each other, but still … we were drawn to on another. It went beyond us, beyond angels even, compelling us to want each other and need each other. After just a few hours in his arms I felt the best I had in months.

  Sipping my coffee and nibbling my muffin I surprised myself by smiling. Not because everything was going to be okay, but because I was finally willing to accept I
couldn"t control everything. I"m Grigori. A warrior. I would always fight and do my best to stop exiles from tormenting innocent humans. I would put my life on the line to make sure others didn"t have to. And I couldn"t control the outcomes. My smile widened and I pulled Lincoln"s coat around me and breathed in his scent.

  He does love me.

  Phoenix had won. Resurrecting Lilith had released a nightmare on our world, but also, he"d helped us. He"d sacrificed strong exiles whom he could have used to do his bidding and I was sure he"d done so because he wanted them gone, stopped. Phoenix had helped us save the people of Santorini. They had no idea what they had escaped.

  No matter what else was on his mind today, whatever torment, suffering and destruction he was planning with Lilith, I knew he"d be thinking of that, too. Phoenix had lied.

  The human isn"t gone at all.

  Lost in my thoughts I hadn"t noticed that I"d walked myself all the way to my apartment building.

  I didn"t have a plan, hadn"t made a decision, but I couldn"t keep hiding and anyway, it was mid-morning and Dad would be at work.

  Chicken!

  The security guy waved as I passed and when I got into the lift I couldn"t help but realised that the building felt different. I caught sight of my wrists in the mirror, my markings still exposed. For some reason, I hadn"t put back on the bracelets I"d taken off in Santorini.

  Further proof that I wasn"t sure if I belonged here any more, or if I was wanted.

  Dad loved me, I didn"t doubt that, but he loved only part of me and that part was getting smaller and smaller as the Grigori in me started to take over every facet of my life.

  Would it be better if I just left now?

  Before he saw who I really was? Before he had to choose whether or not to believe me?

  Before he had to find out about … her?

  I banged my head against the elevator mirror.

  Great plan, Vi. Just like he thinks of … Evelyn less and less.

  No. I"d promised him an explanation and he was going to get one. I"d tell him everything except the part about her. I couldn"t do that to him. Then it would be his choice whether I belonged here or not.

  As soon as I opened the door to our apartment I knew I wasn"t alone.

  I dumped my bag and headed for the kitchen area.

  „I know you"re here," I said, my voice low.

  I made my way to the coffee machine. If she thought I was going to make her one, she was very badly mistaken. On my way, I noticed the open balcony door. We were really going to have to start keeping that locked. Twelve storeys meant little for security these days.

  My hands fisted when I saw her come fro the hall. She"d been in Dad"s room. She"d cut her hair - by herself from the look of it - but it was an improvement. The whole hair-to-the-knees thing might look cute on a five-year-old but … well, it didn"t work.

  „Thought you"d gone," I said, as flat as I could manage.

  She looked no older than Griffin - twenty-five, maybe twenty-six, the age Dad thought she was when she"d died. Or rather, struck her deal. What was really irritating was that, dressed as she was in jeans and a black turtle-neck, she looked completely normal, like she could be my sister or something. My better-looking sister. Also annoying.

  „Flee instinct," she hitched a shoulder. "It"s hard to throw off."

  She stayed on the other side of the breakfast bar and moved slowly, keeping her hands in my view, which I tried to pretend wasn"t a hundred per cent trained on her. She moved to the coffee table, slowly reaching down and picking up the carved wooden box she"d left me.

  „He gave it to you then?"

  „What? Did you think he wouldn"t?" I asked, aggravated on so many levels, especially now that I"d discovered where my escape instincts came from. „How"d you find us, anyway?"

  „Directory services."

  Christ, to think exiles can just look me up!

  She opened the box and pulled out the envelope, which held her letter. I knew that she"d be looking at it"s well-worn edges. Marks made by her contemplative fingers. I wanted to tell her they weren"t from me, but that wasn"t altogether true. I"d handled the wretched thing more than my fair share of time since Dad had passed it on.

  She held up her other wristband. „Do you mind if I take this back?"

  „I don"t care what you do. Take it all." I poured milk in my coffee, spilling it with my shaking hands.

  Damn.

  I watched her from the corner of my eye as she put on the band.

  „The rest is yours but u think I"m going to need this."

  I leaned back on the kitchen bench feigning the best I-couldn"t-give-a-damn-look. Truth was - I needed the bench to support me.

  „Like I said, I don"t care what you do with that stuff."

  She nodded, but put the box back down on the table.

  „Is that coffee?"

  „Yeah. If you want one, there"s a takeaway place down the road."

  She smiled. „Fair enough."

  Then the staring competition began. I cemented my feet to the floor and starred into her wild blue eyes. I couldn"t help but wonder just how many secrets they held. A lot, for sure.

  „You have his eyes," she said, returning my stare.

  „And you have the eyes of a stranger," I said, glad when that made her finally look away from me. „You need to go."

  „I thought you might have some questions."

  I walked past her, giving her a wide berth, and headed for the door. „You know, I can"t think of one thing I want to say to you," I lied.

  She nodded and took a step towards me. I backed up instinctively before I was smart enough to stop myself. That one step gave too much away. She paused, putting her hands in front of her again.

  „I wouldn"t hurt you," she said calmly.

  „History says otherwise. And what makes you think you could take me?" I challenged, same line Gray had used on me.

  She smiled again. „Okay, Violet. I"ll leave."

  I took the last few steps to the door and reached it at the exact same time it burst open and my father charged into the room, breathless.

  „Violet! Violet! Oh, thank God!"

  „Dad," I said, in complete shock. „What are you doing here?"

  „The doorman called the second he saw you come in."

  Trust Dad to have everyone spying for him. Before I had a moment to think he pulled me into his arms, gripping me deathly tight.

  „I thought I"d lost you."

  „Dad - wait! Dad. I need to tell you something."

  Shit.

  His arms went limp. It was too late.

  I stepped back to see Evelyn. Dad"s mouth dropped open and his keys fell to the floor with a metallic clank, deafening in the silence.

  „Tell me I"m not seeing things," he said, his voice quivering and tears welling in his eyes.

  But when I looked back at Evelyn. I was rendered speechless.

  Tears welled in her eyes, too. She looked calm except for her hands. Still extended in front of her, they were trembling as she whispered, „Hello, James."

  Table of Contents

  Prologue

  CHAPTER ONE

  CHAPTER TWO

  CHAPTER THREE

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FIVE

  CHAPTER SIX

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  CHAPTER NINE

  CHAPTER TEN

  CHAPTER ELEVEN

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  Book of Enoch 6:5

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

  Book of Enoch 93:9

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  CHAPTER NINETEEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

  Book of Enoch 15:2

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX
r />   CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

  CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

  CHAPTER THIRTY

  CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

  CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

  CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

  CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

  CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

  CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

  CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

  CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

  CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

  CHAPTER FORTY

 


 

  Jessica Shirvington, Emblaze

 


 

 
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